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I recently saw this film as part of a retrospective showing of Maurice
Pialat films during a film festival. I also saw Gueule ouverte, La
(Mouth Apage)a Pialat film from 1974 (he was 49). By contrast Le Garcu
was Pialat's last film (age 70) and considering the autobiographical
tone, it doesn't seem much of a progression.
Regardless of whether one thinks it is an autobiographical film there are moments when the camera really does disappear and other times when you hope for the director to yell Cut! Depardieu as the father character seems at times, bemused, confused, very selfish and plain unlikeable as he tries to connect with his son who by contrast is oblivious and completely in the present as 4 year olds often are.
Found myself wondering if young Antoine Pialat (The directors actual son) is in some kind of home movie extension where the rest of the plot was added later to justify the budget.
Géraldine Pailhas as the mother of Antoine and second? wife of Gerard (also his characters name) seems to be somewhat reconciled to the disconnections and missed opportunities in her son's life. This happens in the final scene where she watches son and father characters play out separated by glass but somehow linked.
Perhaps the film is about those times we can see, but don't really understand what is going on in the people closest to us? The movie is strangely compelling and some weeks later various scenes still linger as a mark of its moments of greatness. At other times though, you just want to turn away and not look.
There is a remarkable scene in a hotel where the extended family group is watching some French (women - mostly) dance and commenting. The camera seems to be compelled to zoom in on the others as if the characters in our film are just not that interesting. However it is just that widescan vision that makea the film worth a look.
I've since heard that a Pialat specialty is the reaction shot, however I'm still not quite sure I liked the film despite such moments.
"Le Garçu" offers the obvious, but the director, Maurice Pialat, only insinuates and never lets his actors to come up with anything original and fresh. Soon the camera seems to get tired to follow the same people all over around and not even the charm of Gerard Depardieu is enough to save this rather hollow piece of filmmaking. The actors are always on their own and their mannerisms depend on the reaction immediately before, so the dialogue seems so improvised that we begin to accept it as a truly realistic piece of writing. The young star, Antoine Pialat, offers himself as Antoine Pialat, and nothing dramatic comes from his character: he only exposes his qualities and refuses to act, and that explains why he is so handsomely irresistible. In French.
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